Northern Harvest Gift Baskets was born of a desire to share Wisconsin in the form of a gift basket. It was something Ken Stuckart picked up after a couple life changes. First, he retired. Then his wife passed away in 2013. Finally, he moved to Three Lakes, Wisconsin; there he met Anita Kendall, who owns a local coffee and retail shop.
Anita had a friend, Karla, who owned a gift basket business. Inspired by her love of the Wisconsin outdoors and the products produced by artisans living in the Northwoods, she founded Northern Harvest Gift Baskets in 2007. However, that wasn’t her only business venture. Karla also roasts coffee under the name Clearwater Coffee. In 2015, she wanted to devote herself full-time to coffee roasting.
That’s where Ken came in. He purchased Northern Harvest Gift Baskets as a way to make a living in the Northwoods. Despite the change in leadership, the business hasn’t changed much since Ken took over.
“I don’t want to vary too far from the original because that’s what people are looking for, a nice basket,” Ken says.
He keeps the business going because he enjoys making his customers happy. A lot of them used to live in Wisconsin and purchase his baskets for recognizable Wisconsin-based brand names.
Both of those vendors deal with gourmet meat, but Northern Harvest also features artisan cheeses, real maple syrup from Wisconsin maple trees, and two vendors for honey, one of which is all-natural that Ken filters himself.
“That’s nice, but a lot of people don’t like to see little stuff in the honey,” Ken says with a laugh.
Karla established the partnership with WisconsinMade Artisan Collective, and Ken has been keeping it going after he took over. It’s easy to see why—the majority of his sales at Christmastime (the time of year when he gets the most business) comes from WisconsinMade.
So the question is: What’s Ken’s favorite thing about Wisconsin?
“I would say the four seasons,” Ken says. “Fall is probably my favorite time of the year. I get out and snowmobile a lot. I groom trails up here for other snowmobilers. Yeah, summertime I like. I live on a lake. I’m not a fisherman but I have a granddaughter that comes up and loves to fish. So then I’m a fisherman for that week.”